San Francisco may pay $762K for emergency dispatcher harrassment, gender discrimination lawsuit 

Emergency dispatchers Maura Moylan and Anne Raskin were tentatively awarded $762K in a lawsuit against The City that cited harassment and gender discrimination.
  • Emergency dispatchers Maura Moylan and Anne Raskin were tentatively awarded $762K in a lawsuit against The City that cited harassment and gender discrimination.

Two emergency dispatchers have reached a tentative $762,000 settlement in a lawsuit against San Francisco for employment retaliation, harassment, gender discrimination and violation of the federal Stored Communications Act.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in October 2010, paints a troubling picture of the Department of Emergency Management, which handles 911 dispatch.

Dispatcher Maura Moylan, an employee since 2002, described the department in the lawsuit as “run not like a proper government agency,” but one where “hazing, bullying and harassment were the norm.” One female supervisor repeatedly called her “stupid” or “bitch,” the lawsuit said, and complaining only made Moylan’s life worse.

In 2008, as a supervisor then, Moylan complained about a “blatant misuse of city monies,” with certain employees covering for one another when others didn’t show up for work, the lawsuit said. The lawsuit detailed other questionable incidents and behavior, including Moylan not being able to take lunch breaks because other supervisors left her alone while they “spent their time in the office chatting on the internet or throwing parties”; workers running “out of the building hand-in-hand giggling in front of subordinates so they could put a phony stolen vehicle report on a certain fire-fighter’s personal vehicle that was parked at a fire station”; an employee’s daughter being allowed to use a department computer containing sensitive information; and supervisors allowing favored dispatchers to “come off the floor and hang out in the supervisor’s room with them instead of working.”

At the time of the lawsuit, the department was headed by Vicki Hennessy, who is now serving as interim sheriff. It’s now overseen by Anne Kronenberg.

“We are unable to comment on this matter at this time,” department spokeswoman Laura Adleman said.

As Moylan’s whistle-blowing fell on deaf ears, the lawsuit said, the retaliatory acts against her intensified.

In November 2009, she was told she was under internal investigation for certain emails.  But Moylan said colleagues were merely out to get her. They allegedly used a department computer that employees had for personal use and accessed Moylan’s Yahoo email account, combing through more than 1,000 messages to find ones they could use against her.

Some were exchanges with dispatcher Anne Raskin, who filed the lawsuit with Moylan.  The emails were distributed and talked about in the workplace, the lawsuit said, and Moylan’s life “went from horrible to hellish.”

Moylan and Raskin’s attorney, Mary Shea Hagebols, declined to comment.

A federal jury found that The City violated the Stored Communications Act and failed to protect Moylan from retaliation and harassment. The jury did not find there was gender discrimination.

The settlement agreement is slated to be introduced to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday for approval.

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